During the 80s while Stallone and Schwarzenegger were shaping the aspirations of young men, Jane Fonda and Gin Miller were inspiring women to wear lycra and exercise to music – the aim of course, to look like a Baywatch babe!
For those who weren’t around to remember, the 80s were a time of self-appreciation and superficiality. With the ideological 60s a distant memory, the 80s were a desperate attempt to relieve the boredom of the 70s. With clothes becoming more colourful and hair bigger, a new drive for self-beautification was taking place.
It wasn’t especially about being healthy, functional or fit, it was more focused on enthusiastic, high energy pea cocking… and the Aerobics movement was perfectly fitted to this era.
What is Aerobic Exercise? – A Definition
Aerobic exercise, or Aerobics as it was termed by its founder Dr Kenneth Cooper is designed to improve the body’s ability to handle performing aerobically…
When the body performs at different intensities it utilises different systems to produce the energy it needs. If you are working-out at a level where your breathing system can provide your body with all the oxygen it needs, you are working Aerobically.
Louis Pasteur coined the term from Greek aero- “air” + bios “life” to mean “living only in the presence of oxygen”. If you are working out intensely, you’ll get to the point where your breathing is unable to produce enough oxygen to fulfil your body’s needs. This then is called working Anaerobically, which essentially means ‘without oxygen’.
Types of aerobic exercise
Most people work aerobically for 98% of their lives. Anything up to about 7/10 of your maximum effort and you’ll be working aerobically, so that includes most of everybody’s daily activities. For it to be called aerobic exercise though, you should be working at 6-7/10 of your maximum effort, or at around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. That could be anything really:
- Sex (yes, that’s a good one!)
- Or just jumping around (just like a typical exercise class!)
What you do really doesn’t matter when it comes to working aerobically, it’s the intensity that’s important.
If and when you want structured, instructor led aerobics you should search for these in your area:
- Step aerobics
- Aerobic Dance
- Water/aqua aerobics
- Aerobic Boxing & Kickboxing
If you’re more experienced and looking for something more challenging or just for some variety you could choose to incorporate some fun stuff into your workouts…
A Step is the obvious first choice. Don’t try it unless you’ve had a few classes first. (You’ll just look silly!)
Hand/wrist and ankle weights are a great choice to make every movement harder.
As a natural progression over the years instructors have evolved the traditional aerobics class to include all sorts of equipment; barbells, swiss balls, balance boards, resistance bands, but the root core of the discipline has always remained unchanged – workout consistently for around 1 hour, at 6-7/10 effort. Choose whatever equipment you want to get to and stay at that level of exertion.
What makes a good Aerobics Trainer?
This depends on you. Excitement gets most people going, but if there’s no variety or personalised approach then the classes are going to get monotonous and you are going to plateau. In fact, I can say that this is the biggest concern with aerobic training. It leads most people quickly to a training plateau. This is where you’ll make gains for a certain period of time before reaching a point where the same efforts aren’t getting you anywhere. The job of the professional then is to add variation and increase intensity. If they’re not doing that, they’re no good!!
This leads me on to talk about aerobics music; again, whatever gets you going. Some music just makes you move and it’s a personal thing – everyone’s different. If your instructor is playing the same thing week after week, request a change of CD!
If you’re considering taking the ultimate step to become an instructor, there are some great aerobics courses in London (that’s my backyard!). The YMCA Fit offer the world’s most renowned qualifications. They set up the world’s first Exercise to Music course back in 1984 and have trained over 70,000 instructors! Their headquarters are in Holborn. Pitch vid here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEg5EjSr6po#t=197
Aerobic Exercise at home
You’ll find literally 1000s of videos & DVDs for purchase online but if you just want to dip-in check out FitnessBlender on their YouTube page. They have loads of free aerobic exercise videos. Try this one for starters – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiuJ3ZFAiBg
Though again remember, it’s all about intensity. Choose the workout that’s just the right intensity to challenge you but that won’t leave you struggling 10 minutes in!
Why Choose Aerobics to Get Fit?
They’re a great starter option and a cheap way to have some face time with an actual fitness instructor. It’ll get you moving, sweating and if you’ve been relatively inactive it’ll bring your fitness levels up. Once you start to plateau, which is inevitable, look towards a more personalised and tailored approach with a good Personal Trainer (an average Personal Trainer is just an expensive version of an exercise class) who can assess your needs and direct you towards your individual potential.